Be Your Own Headhunter


Be Your Own Headhunter

The satisfaction that comes from placing a talented leader in a progressive company is one of the greatest pleasures I get from my career as a retained search executive.  The problem is that only one person gets placed per hundreds I talk with and/or evaluate.  Depending on how selective the recruiter or how tight the search criterion, this is typical.

It doesn’t take an actuary to see that these odds aren’t good.   So, what can you do to increase the likelihood that you will land a quality opportunity in a reasonable timeframe? 

Here are a few tips on how you can be your own headhunter:

1)    Make a list:  Include targeted companies you would like to work for that also fit your experience base.  Use tools like Google, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Hoovers, trade group publications, etc…

2)    Contact info: Use those same tools find the title and individual that you would likely report to.  Find their email and phone number – Zoom and Hoovers are great for this.  In addition, find their profile on LinkedIn.  If you are struggling to find their email  address (which is best), you most likely can send them inMail on LinkedIn.  Only use human resources as an absolute last resort.

3)    Elevator pitch:  Prepare to reach out and to present yourself clearly.  You should be able to summarize yourself for listeners in less than 30 seconds.  What are the key attributes and successes you bring to the table that are valuable?  Think in terms of “top 3’s”.  Write them out and refine them.

4)    5 minutes of information:  If you have done your job in the first step, you will have a robust list of targets, perhaps as large as 100+ companies.  You need to spend a little time on their website, Googling news and reading the bio of the person you are about to contact so you can distinguish yourself as knowledgeable.  Don’t over think it though. You aren’t a research librarian, so only focus on the key things.  Hence the 5 minutes of information.

5)    Make contact:  Now it’s time to reach out and touch somebody.  This is the part where many executive level job seekers fall apart.  Whatever might hold you back – pride, fear of rejection, etc. – you have to find a way to get over it.

Reach out by email, presenting your elevator pitch in a way that shows what you can do for the company then ask for a time to meet or talk on the phone for a brief introduction.  If you do not get a response to your email, call and do the same thing.

6)    Follow up:  Self-explanatory here.  People are busy and you don’t remember the salespeople that used to call on you, so you can’t expect your contact to remember, either.  So reach out again.  Use your common sense to gauge frequency and timing of contact.  It could be 2 days, 2 weeks. or a month or more between follow-ups.  Be “professionally persistent”.

7)    Plan or plan to fail:  Manage your time to run this program daily.  Whether you are temporarily unemployed or still working and looking to move will determine how much time you can devote to your search.  In either situation, make sure you are running enough activity each day to form a pipeline of interviews.

I hope these tips help you take control of your search.  While experience tells me that less than 20% of job seekers follow this plan or one similar (because it takes work), the same experience tells me that those few who do are likely to get the best, higher paying opportunities.

Until next time, happy hunting!

Serving high performance clients since 2000, Griffon Partners is a highly focused, effective retained search and consulting firm. Known for unmatched service and responsiveness, we do two things that accomplish one mission: build world class leadership teams.  For more information please visit or email


Leave a reply